It is now almost 50 years since the wild men of rock and roll smashed up their instruments on the stage of the old Public Hall – watched by 22 fans.
The Public Hall has itself been smashed up and turned into a Cornwallis Street car park since The Who appeared in Barrow in May 13 in 1965.
The line-up was Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon.
Ten years ago a claim by a Barrow singer, Danny Patterson, that The Who had never played in the town promoted a deluge of calls to the Evening Mail.
Among those who were there for the event was Barrow councillor and Furness walks guide John Murphy.
He noted in 2005: “They had just released My Generation and when they played it, it sounded very loud and pretty terrible.”
Alan Smith, of Barrow, said the group played on a Thursday night as part of a first tour outside London.
It had caused some controversy when the national press quoted the band as saying they would “never play Barrow or Greenock again.”
Steve Bundy said that before the gig, the band spent some time in the Criterion pub on Cornwallis Street.
Wendy Maddox saw three of the band members in the town centre and gave them directions to the Public Hall. She spoke to Roger Daltrey.
Linda Keenan, of Barrow, said: “It was a brilliant night, they went wild smashing their instruments to pieces on the stage.
“Keith Moon actually came over to me and we had a conversation.”
Jim Johnson was there and recalled that the audience at the Public Hall was just 22.
It seems the band was used to making an early start but the Barrow tradition in the 1960s was to go to gigs after last orders had been called at nearby pubs.
William Hartley, of Ulverston, couldn’t get to the gig because he was ill but had a ticket – which cost 6/6 (32p).”
On June 18 in 1965 the band was at Morecambe, playing in the Floral Hall and on August 13 was back for a show in the Marine Ballroom, on the Central Pier.
On October 9 in 1965 the up-and-coming band played at the Market Hall, Carlisle.
This year had seen The Who enter the national musical mainstream, thanks to the success of their first two singles, I Can’t Explain and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, which provided them with numerous appearances on BBC radio and television, most notably the Ready Steady Go! TV program.
Meanwhile the band performed continuously in the United Kingdom throughout the year, with brief stops in France and Scandinavia.
Their act consisted mostly of R &B and Tamla Motown covers, but more and more original material appeared as the year wore on, particularly by the release of the My Generation album in December.
The instrument destruction that marked the band’s early years was at its height at this stage.